The number of uninsured private vehicles on Irish roads grew for the third year in a row, according to new research carried out by the Motor Insurers' Bureau of Ireland.
Last year the total number of private vehicles driving without insurance reached 187,803, an increase of 13,626 on 2021.
The figures show that uninsured vehicles accounted for 8.3% of the entire fleet of private vehicles on Irish roads.
This means that one in every 12 vehicles was breaking the law and driving without insurance last year.
The MIBI said since 2020, there are now more than 32,000 additional uninsured vehicles on Irish roads.
Under Irish law, the penalties for vehicles found without valid insurance include An Garda Síochána having the power to seize the vehicle on the spot, as well as other significant penalties such as an automatic court appearance, five penalty points and a substantial fine.
The MIBI undertakes this research by contrasting the number of private motor vehicle owners paying motor taxes with the number of vehicles who have active insurance policies.
It is a not for profit organisation that was established to compensate victims of road traffic accidents caused by uninsured and unidentified vehicles.
"Clearly not enough is being done to discourage uninsured driving in this country," said David Fitzgerald, CEO of the MIBI.
"Every single time a person drives a vehicle without insurance they are breaking the law. Yet the number of uninsured vehicles continues to rise.
"Within the last two years, the number of private vehicles being driven illegally without insurance has grown by more than 32,000. That is a really, really significant increase and should be a cause of concern to anyone who is interested in the rule of law and the safety of Irish roads."
Mr Fitzgerald said if the current trend were to continue then we are likely to pass 200,000 uninsured vehicles in the next 12 to 18 months.
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"The most obvious solution to all this is also easily within reach, in the form of the new Irish Motor Insurance Database system being fully adopted and data used by An Garda Síochána in their Automatic Number Plate Recognition systems and new garda mobility devices," he said.
He added that this would allow uninsured drivers to be simply and quickly identified without having to even be stopped and pulled over.
It would enable gardaí to check vehicles on the road without even leaving their cars.
They could also use their mobility devices to quickly check the insurance status of vehicles and drivers, thus speeding up the validation process in front line operations.
"If the Government wanted to take action on this issue they would be pressing for the full and immediate implementation of that system," Mr Fitzgerald said.
"However as the relevant legislation required to completely enable that is still working its way through the Oireachtas, it would seem we still have some distance to travel before the country really clamps down on the problem of uninsured driving."
MIBI chief executive David Fitzgerald has said one in 12 private motorists are breaking the law and driving without insurance.
"It's a crime, it's a road safety issue and it's costing honest motorists money because we're fully funded by the motor insurance industry," Mr Fitzgerald said.
Speaking on Morning Ireland, he said that "honest motorists" are paying for the for the victims of people driving without insurance.
"€30-35 is being paid by the honest motorists who are choosing to buy motor insurance, as they should", he said.
He also said the level of uninsured drivers is very high by European standards, adding that the majority of uninsured drivers are males aged 18 to 30.
The MIBI does try to raise awareness among this demographic, he said, highlighting the penalties they face when caught driving without insurance.
"It's five penalty points. It's an automatic fine, it's a court appearance - your car will be seized on the spot," he warned.
The average injury claim is €60,000 to €70,000, he said, adding that non-insured drivers will be pursued for this in later years.
So, if they inherit money or property, this can be used to offset the outstanding compensation, he explained.
Gardaí has said a system of Automatic Number Plate Recognition is currently being used as a deterrent to help to ensure overall compliance with road traffic legislation.
ANPR is also used to reduce fatal and serious injury collisions.
In a statement said: "Significant investment in ANPR technology has been made to date by An Garda Síochána and as of today, 127 Garda vehicles equipped with such technology are currently in use nationwide.
"The investment in ANPR has also extended to the Mobility Project, where an ANPR App has been developed for Frontline Garda members, with over 200 members using the app on their Mobility Devices."
Gardaí also said: "Detections of Road Traffic Offences by gardaí, including driving without insurance, are highlighted regularly across our social media channels."